Serum albumin and pre-albumin levels have been used as a marker of nutritional status by doctors, dieticians and hospitals. While there are many reasons for albumin to be high or low, there is new data that albumin levels may correlate more with inflammation than malnutrition 1. Serum albumin is an acute phase protein that has various functions within the blood and body. According to a study published in 2012 in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, revealed that albumin levels appear to better reflect severity of the inflammatory response2 instead of showing that the person is suffering from poor nutrition levels.

There are many factors that can lead to malnutrition and when a severe acute illness or serious trauma occurs in someones life, they are at a greater risk for malnutrition. When malnutrition occurs, it is important to correct it as soon as possible to increase their chances of healing from the illness or trauma.

My brother Ryan had a very serious trauma last year (Story) and recently he had a severe case of pneumonia. His albumin levels, which had been steadily increasing since we switched him to a real food diet (Liquid Hope), took a sudden plunge. The doctor was concerned that his nutrition status was not adequate, but the dietician knew of the new research that links albumin levels to inflammation, and was not concerned about his nutrition in that instance. It made perfect sense that in a time of acute illness, his inflammation level was much higher than it had been previously.

We were so glad that he had been on Liquid Hope for a month and a half before the illness and that his nutrition was up! I cannot imagine how much worse this could have been if he was not so well nourished!

The formula is a complete source of nutrition.

It will be interesting to see where this research goes, now that it seems we have another marker for systemic inflammation. Inflammation is blamed (probably correctly) for many degenerative type diseases, so this could possibly help us to know when inflammation is higher than it should be.

As far as diagnostic testing for malnutrition, the articles I read have called for a more physical exam, versus using serum albumin.

Has your dietician used albumin levels as a marker for malnutrition? Hopefully in the near future there will be a better measure! What do you think? 

  1. Jensen, G.J.,Bistrian, B., Roubenoff, R., & Heimburger, D.C.(November 2009). Malnutrition Syndromes: A Conundrum vs. Continum.Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, vol. 33. Retrieved fromhttp://pen.Sage pub.com/content/33/6/710
  2. White, J.V., Guenter, P., Jensen, G., Malone, A., Schofield, M., Academy Malnutrition Work Group, A.S.P.E.N Malnutrition Task Force, & A.S.P.E.N Board of Directors. (April 24th, 2012). Consensus Statement: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition: Characteristics Recommended for the Identification and Documentation of Adult Malnutrition (Undernutrition). Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, vol.36. Retrieved from http://pen.sagepub.com/content/36/3/275.